Friday, June 06, 2003

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Pope is in Dubrovnik, Croatia today. I've been to Dubrovnik twice in my life, both times in conjunction with a visit to Medjugordje. The first time I was there in 1989 it was part of Yugoslavia the second time it was just beginning to become part of Croatia.

Several things I remember about Dubrovnik are: that it lays claim to St. Blase of blessing of the throats fame--they sell candles there that are a unique twisting of two big candles into a "u" shape. I used to have a set but I think they were left behind in a church somewhere along my life's journey.

The other thing that I remember was a huge reliquary that included a ton of relics located in the Cathedral, including a large reliquary containing the arm of St. John the Baptist. The most impressive or questionable relics contained in this display were two both dealing with infants.

First there were the relics of the Holy Innocents martyred by King Herod. Sure enough there were little skeletal remains contained in a glass box but it would take a great amount of faith to believe that they were actually the "holy innocents" but after years of reflecting over this I have come to see that there is no doubt that they contain the bones of holy innocents who died before their families were ready to see them go.

The other "questionable" relic there is the "diaper" of Jesus. Now I admit I have never researched the question in the Anchor Bible Dictionary to see whether babies wore diapers in Palestine at the time of Christ and if they did who had the foresight to keep Jesus' diaper packed away when He no longer required it. But again my doubt has turned into faith that the relic of the diaper of Jesus points to the humanity of the Son of God at its most rudimentary expression. As cute as babies are they are capable of creating quite a mess and its left to an adult to clean up. God humbling Himself even to that point makes the mystery of the Incarnation even that more real.

I had hoped that the Pope would remark on one or the other of these Dubrovnik specialties but I looked and he did not...so I have.